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The Story Behind Popular 'Woman Yelling at a Cat' Meme Was Actually the Result of Abuse

You’ve seen the viral meme — a split-screen of a blonde-haired woman yelling at a white cat making a face in front of a plate of lettuce. The meme has inspired countless laughs, but the story behind the woman in the meme, Taylor Armstrong, has a very difficult origin.

Dubbed the Woman Yelling at a Cat meme by Know Your Meme, it features Armstrong, a star on the reality TV series “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” and the white cat, Smudge. Originally two separate images, Twitter user @MISSINGEGIRL spliced Armstrong and Smudge together in May, writing, “These photos together is making me lose it.” The resulting meme — and all its hilarious incarnations — went viral.

For Armstrong, however, the image of her screaming comes from a 2011 episode in season two of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.” During the episode, titled “Malibu Beach Party From Hell,” Armstrong was telling her friends about her experience with domestic violence and abuse by her late ex-husband. Armstrong also revealed after filing for divorce and speaking out about the alleged abuse, her former husband died by suicide.

Another “Housewives” cast member, Camille Grammer, was filmed gossiping with other people about Armstrong’s past, which made Armstrong worry about how her current husband would react. After the other cast members kept trying to minimize Armstrong’s feelings about the gossip with Grammer, it sparked a major fight. The resulting fight led to the image now famous in the Woman Yelling at a Cat meme.

Recently, the meme featuring Armstrong and Smudge was revived on social media and began making the rounds again. Its newfound popularity sparked a Twitter user to ask Armstrong if it was difficult to see that moment circulated online, given how upset she was at the time. Armstrong responded she has made peace with her traumatic past and now works to help others who have survived domestic violence.

“Thank you – that is my past and I have moved on and am in a really healthy, happy marriage,” Armstrong tweeted. “It doesn’t seem like my life any longer. I work w domestic violence shelters and support victims. It’s ok to laugh at the images that have been created.”

Though Armstrong said she has recovered from her past trauma, know everyone heals at their own pace. If you survived trauma or domestic abuse and are still struggling with the effects, that’s OK too. Your experience is valid and you’re not alone.

Header image via Know Your Meme